Banh Mi Sliders

Finished tray of banh mi

Two years ago, I had never tasted Vietnamese food. And today I would “Hey, Kool Aid” through a brick wall if I thought there was a banh mi on the other side of it.

Open Banh Mi

What can I say? People change. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m scary allergic to bell peppers, ginger, coffee, curry, and wasabi. But (in recent months) that hasn’t stopped me from experimenting with Asian flavors I’ve never before tasted in entirely inauthentic ways!

Close up banh mi

This delightfully tiny, non-lethal slider version of the classic banh mi features sweet and savory pork, quick pickled vegetables, sriracha mayo, salty peanuts, and fresh cilantro on sweet Hawaiian rolls.

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Mixed Greens with Crispy Prosciutto, Figs, Burrata, and Balsamic Vinaigrette

I’ve reached a turning point. After weeks (months) of chocolate and bread and gravy and kickasseroles, I’ve started craving salad again.

Fig Burrata Proscuitto Salad

Yes, I know, summer in Minnesota is a lifetime away. Last week we had temperatures around 20 below zero. Last winter we still had snow in May. May. (#disMay)

Fig Burrata Proscuitto Salad_closeup

But despite my bleak weatherscope, now that the holidays are over, I’m craving bright, fresh, warm-weather foods. So here’s a tasty compromise—fresh greens with a summery, acidic vinaigrette topped with the luxurious tastes of winter: salty prosciutto, sticky figs, and creamy burrata.

Fig Burrata Proscuitto Salad_closeup2

This salad was my first experience with burrata and, well, if you ever see the headline “Midwestern Soprano Arrested after Defeating Great Siberian Tiger with Bare Hands,” that’s me, and the tiger and I were fighting over the last piece of burrata. It’s creamy and delicious and that tiger had it coming, stealing my cheese.

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Top Ten Recipes of 2012

Happy Holidays, imaginary internet friends! And congratulations on surviving the end of the world. Now I’m off to Barnes and Noble to demand a refund for my Mayan wall calendar. Wish me luck!

In the meantime, I hope you’ll take another look at the 10 most popular recipes I shared this year.

S’mores Fried Ice Cream with Chipotle Chocolate Sauce

 

Asparagus Lasagna Slice

Asparagus Lasagna with Pancetta, Goat Cheese, and Lemon

 

Baked Churros with Cinnamon Ice Cream and Dulce de Leche

 

Loaded Baked Potato Grilled Cheese Sandwich

 

Cinnamon Roll Grilled Cheese Sandwich

 

Oatmeal Cream Pies

Homemade Oatmeal Cream Pies

 

Cookies and Milk

Toffee Cashew Cookies

 

pie crust crackers

Chicken Pot Pie Soup with Pie Crust Crackers

 

Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese Sandwich

And the most popular recipe of 2012:

Pepperoni Stuffed Chicken

Pepperoni Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Here’s to a delicious (and gooey) new year!

Dressed Up Baked Beans

This is the perfect side dish for summer picnics and barbec—what? It’s past Labor Day? And I missed Barbecue Season™?

Nnnnooooooooo!

I’m a day late, but I just can’t keep this recipe to myself until Memorial Day 2013, when picnics are once again permissible. Also? I’m wearing white pants. Yeah, I’m a rebel.

When I first served this recipe at a work potluck, my adorable friend Karl told me that my baked beans were the best baked beans he’d had. I was more than a little concerned that of all my recipes, the one that earned the greatest compliment was made of store-bought, canned baked beans and all the condiments in the door of my refrigerator. Fortunately I got over it.

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Lamb Burgers with Capicola and Cucumber-Goat Cheese Spread

I think I may be in danger.

For the past four days, I’ve been shooting my mouth off about how much I despise the Minnesota State Fair, and I fear the devoted fair-goers may turn up at my door with pronto pup-topped pitchforks and propane torches.

But I just can’t seem to help myself. Sweet cracker sandwiches, how I hate the fair. I hate the hokey state fair news coverage, and the ubiquitous on-a-stick jokes, and the questionable odors perfuming the air near the farm building, and the huge lines for rickety rides, and most of all, the mobs of people who invade my neighborhood for 10 days each August, taking every last parking space, along with the very last deep fried morsel of my patience and good will.

I’ve become the summertime Grinch.

While my fellow Minnesotans are enjoying the Great Minnesota Sweat Together, I grumpily hibernate in my apartment, leaving only to fight my way to work and back through streets filled with meandering jaywalkers, pushing strollers and dragging over-sized stuffed animals.

And forget about having company! I wouldn’t dream of asking my guests to brave the crowds and fight for parking during the fair. So it’s a good thing I hosted my summer picnic, starring Greek-inspired lamb burgers well before the vendor trucks and fair-goers descended upon my street.

The burgers were encrusted in garlic, oregano, kosher salt and red pepper flakes before I seared them to a juicy medium rare. Then I topped the burgers with spicy capicola and nestled them in chewy, soft ciabatta rolls dressed in a tzatziki-inspired goat cheese and cucumber spread.

I’m fairly certain my heart grew three sizes that day.

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Loaded Baked Potato Grilled Cheese Sandwich

In honor of National Grilled Cheese Month, I’m posting a different grilled cheese sandwich every single day through the month of April. You’re welcome.

There couldn’t possibly be a better sandwich creation to end National Grilled Cheese Month than this rich, satisfying delight.

I wanted to make a grilled cheese that tasted like a loaded baked potato, but the crispy, buttery potato bread, smoky bacon, tangy sour cream, and messy strands of gooey cheddar invoked the textures and flavors of late-night potato skins instead. I was happily surprised, and maybe a little tipsy.

I’m going to miss National Grilled Cheese Month. No, I’m not crying. I just have cheese in my eye.

For general grilled cheese tips, visit the inaugural grilled cheese sandwich post.

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Spicy Apricot and Bacon Grilled Cheese Sandwich

In honor of National Grilled Cheese Month, I’m posting a different grilled cheese sandwich every single day through the month of April. You’re welcome.

I think you’ll remember this sandwich’s delightful cousin, the Candied Dijon Bacon Grilled Cheese with Pickled Jalapenos. The two share a number of common features – they’re sweet, spicy, smoky, and salty.

But today’s creation provides a very important advantage: since you’re not coating the bacon, it takes less time to prepare, and you can make with the eating sooner. Everybody wins!

For general grilled cheese tips, visit the inaugural grilled cheese sandwich post.

Continue reading for the Spicy Apricot and Bacon Grilled Cheese Sandwich recipe

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